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Wells Fargo third major bank to end Arctic oil investment

Published: Mar. 3, 2020 at 10:41 AM AKST
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— Wells Fargo & Co. became the third major U.S. bank to announce it will not support financing for oil and gas projects in the Arctic.

The bank identified the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on Alaska’s North Slope as an area where it will not invest, The Anchorage Daily News reported Monday.

Well Fargo joined The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. in the decision not to provide future investment funding for Arctic oil projects.

Well Fargo said the decision was ”part of a larger 2018 risk-based decision to forego participation in any project-specific transaction in the region.”

“Our policy applies only to project finance in the region,” the San Francisco-based bank said in a statement. “We have ongoing business relationships with numerous companies involved in the oil and gas industry in the Alaska Arctic region and expect to continue those relationships long into the future.”

The disclosure comes as the Trump administration takes steps to lease tracts in the refuge’s coastal plain, setting the stage for drilling approved by Congress in 2017.

Conservation groups and Gwichin tribal members have pressed banks to reject support for investments in the refuge as part of a larger plan to combat climate change.

Other Alaska leaders, including Inupiat tribal leaders, have urged the banks to refuse those pleas, citing Alaska’s environmental standards and the state’s economic dependence on oil development.

Some oil industry professionals in Alaska expressed concern that reduced financial support for Arctic drilling could threaten future projects.

Goldman Sachs announced its policy in December, and JPMorgan followed in February.

Alaska leaders angered by the Goldman Sachs decision removed the bank from the state’s billion-dollar bond plan. The administration of Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy is also reviewing JPMorgan’s relationship with the state.

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